The Hunger Project Ghana, in collaboration with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Okere District Environmental Health and Sanitation Department, has celebrated the 2022 World Toilet Day in Asasekoko, Eastern Region.
The stakeholders, marking the day as part of the collaborative project “Improving Food Security, WASH, and Nutrition in Ghana”, urged communities to take sanitation issues, particularly open defecation, seriously or face prosecution.
Mr Daniel Beloved Oppong, Project Officer for Baware Epicentre in the Eastern Region, stated that the project aimed to improve nutrition and food security in Ghana and that such an objective could not be met without good sanitation.
He explained that surface water provided nearly half of the water drawn for domestic use, so avoiding harmful practices like indiscriminate defecation near water bodies would help provide a hygienic environment to fight diseases.
Mr Charles T. Uyan, the Okere District Director of Environmental Health and Sanitation Department, stressed the importance of safely managing sanitation and protecting surface water bodies from human waste contamination.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, at least two billion people worldwide use drinking water sources contaminated with faeces.
Also, a UNICEF study of 2021 study states that over 800 children under the age of five die every day from diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, and dysentery caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene.
In response to the widespread negative impact of poor sanitation conditions, the World Toilet Day was established and observed every year on November 19 to raise awareness about the importance of safe sanitation and the consequences of open defecation, as well as to emphasise the impact of toilets on the population as a major social challenge.
Referencing this year’s theme “Making the Invisible Visible: The Impact of the Sanitation Crisis on Surface and Ground Water,” Mr. Uyan said sanitation matters were visible because all United Nations partners and non-government organisations had been tasked and funded to tackle the global sanitation crises by 2030.
“The negative impact appears to be invisible,” he added, and said, “invisible because it occurs underground, invisible because it affects the poorest and most marginalised communities.”
The Sixth Sustainable Development Goal stipulates that all people should have access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene, as well as be free of open defecation, by 2030.
Mr Uyan urged the government to work on the average four times faster to ensure SDG 6.2 was achieved by 2030.
During the celebration, students of Asasekoko M/A Basic School went on a float through the town, carrying placards with inscriptions such as “Stop Open Defecation to Prevent Morbidity and Mortality,” and “Every Household Should Have a Household Toilet.”
Also included were: “Stop Open Defecation into Water Bodies; “Improper Construction of Toilet Septic Tanks Can Contaminate Underground Water” and “Open Defecation is an Offence and Liable for Prosecution.”
The Ghana News Agency observed that the majority of Asasekoko households lacked toilet facilities, but a public toilet, which officials said was nearly 95 percent completed by Okere District Assembly, was available.
Officials from the Baware Epicentre, on the other hand, assured that The Hunger Project Ghana would assist in completing the project, and that once done, the people would be able to use it while they worked on constructing toilet facilities in their individual houses.
The Hunger Project is a non-profit organisation committed to reducing hunger and poverty in communities throughout the world through the development of sustainable, grassroots, and women-centred programmes.